Mixing fitness and fun, this VB boxing gym throws the light swords out and takes on the rhythm
Mixing fitness and fun, this VB boxing gym throws the light swords out and takes on the rhythm genre with gusto. A great, if limited, soundtrack, a range of classes, and some serious full body movement make this a fantastic alternative to VR beat em ups. geddit!? Developed by Fit XR, BoxVR is easy to mistake for just another rhythm action title that has dodged onto a range of VR platforms. Initially sounding like something between Wii fit and Beat Saber, this title aims to mix up the traditional rhythm game with a set of challenges that really get the player moving. Like any good rhythm game, the ideas behind BixVR are relatively simple to understand. Anybody familiar with any percussion-based mobile titles or more modern VR experiences such as Pistol Whip will quickly get the concept. Players who take to the virtual gym will pound their way through a range of electronica, rock, pop, and eclectic sounds as they smash a range of colored orbs that threaten to float by undisturbed.
While the concept for this game doesn’t seem particularly original, it’s surprisingly hard to get rhythm games right and BoxVR also adds an extra twist. Players who strap on a VR headset and pul on the virtual gloves will find a health-focused take on the traditional smash and grab of Beat Saber. Set in a fully immersive 3D environment that makes no bones about being a gym, this title begins by introducing players to the basic concepts around BoxVR. Two gloved hands stretch out around a player’s hands and match the blue and purple orbs that float within reach. Without a gun to shoot down these colored balloons, at long range, the only option is to punch, jab, and swing through each orb. While the tutorial isn’t exactly long, this introduction does a good job of explaining to players that they can expect to hit each target from a specific direction. Taking a pre-designated stance within the play area, uppercuts, front-facing jabs, and swinging hooks are part of the game’s core mechanics. Moving out of this beginner’s ring and into the rest of the game, BoxVR provides a great range of workouts for everybody. If you are starting out or prepared to get a bit sweaty there seems to be plenty to do. From quick 5 minute bursts of energy to a whole hour of endurance, over 18 hours of workout routines are joined by a recent update that added 40 extra tracks. Each of these comes choreographed by professional trainers at BoxVR to give a range of challenges. In addition, daily workout classes are plastered front and center for players to get in and get a sweat on without any delay. After perusing the activities on offer, choosing and adequately outlandish background to play against and pick up the pace, things started to warm up. I played BoxVR on and off over a week and found it suited more than a few fitness disciplines. Starting off easy enough, the warm-up routines cover just a few minutes of quick jabs and keeping time. Everything feels well-coordinated and choreographed with orbs hitting arm’s length at just the right time. there’s enough variety to keep things interesting without getting too overwhelming at this level. Longer routines mix this up with a range of other uppercuts and directional attacks and the dreaded squats. While similar games encourage movement, BoxVR actively pushes players to get around the mat. Anything over a five-minute warm-up includes stance swaps, repeated squats, a variety of dodges and movement. With a little less freeform than sabers allow, this experience focuses on player form and forces you to really work at getting things right. Throughout my time this great choreography continued, meaning it was only my own body holding me back when trying to build up high scoring streaks. Hitting long streaks, grabbing multipliers, and overcoming more complex physical challenges reward players with an array of achievements, alongside the ticking calorie counter that hangs up above the screen.
Social achievements and personal gain are clearly meant to be one of the big motivators and while that is fantastic, I would have loved to see some cosmetic drops. In any VR game, motion sickness is a potential issue, especially when you are all over the mat. The on rails element of BoxVR reduces much of the potential sensory confusion by keeping movement consistent and under your own control. The natural body movement that occurs is something you will have to consider but I did not experience any issues with the consistent crawl towards a stable horizon. While long sessions are available in BoxVR, 18 hours of music won’t realistically last that long. As somebody who clears 4 hours a week in the gym just crushing cardio, swapping this into the front room means that I’d run out of tracks pretty quickly. Unlike Beat Saber, there doesn’t seem to be the option to drop real money on licensed tracks, although the ability to add your own workout and tracks is welcome. In many aspects, I can’t help but find myself compare BoxVR to sword-wielding competitors and it matches it in almost every respect. The difference is, I love the burn. I had beginner try this out and ache the next day, while I find myself drawn to BoxVR more often than other titles because I know I’m mixing fitness and fun. BoxVR is not a new Peleton, although I could seriously see instructor-led classes working, and it won’t drastically change your body image overnight. However, if you’ve been looking for a more physical challenge than kicking back on the couch and shooting down incoming enemies then BoxVR is a great option for anybody who wants to work up a sweat.
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